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Advisory Opinions

Advisory Opinion 35

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Providing the official transcript of a proceeding to the hiring party (1999)

Statement of Facts

The NCRA Board of Directors has requested an opinion from the Committee on Professional Ethics regarding the following scenario: A reporting firm enters into an arrangement with the hiring party to provide the official transcript of a proceeding to the hiring party and not to sell copies of the official transcript to other parties. The hiring party, on the other hand, may sell copies to the other parties if it so chooses.

Discussion

Provision No. 1 of the Code states that a Member shall be fair and impartial and offer comparable services to all parties to a proceeding. Provision No. 2 requires that Members be alert to conflicts of interest or to situations that give the appearance of a conflict. Provision No. 3 requires a reporter to guard against not only the fact but also the appearance of impropriety. Provision No. 4 requires reporters to ensure the security of the information entrusted to them. Provision No. 9 requires Members to maintain the integrity of the reporting profession.

The Committee has determined that for a reporter to enter into an arrangement such as the one described above or any arrangement in which the reporter yields control and distribution of the official transcript to any entity (other than a court reporting firm through which the reporter did the work), particularly one of the parties to a proceeding, violates Provisions Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 9 of the Code . The Committee also considers it a violation of the same Code Provisions even if the reporter involved is not directly involved in the agreement, for example, is acting as a subcontractor for a firm that is party to such an agreement.

A reporter is no longer able to fulfill the obligation to offer comparable services to both parties if the reporter supplies a transcript to one party and is prohibited or refuses to do so for the other parties. This is a violation of Code Provision No. 1. Entering into such an arrangement makes the reporter part of the hiring party's litigation team, removes the reporter's impartiality and creates a conflict of interest. In essence, the opposing parties subsidize the hiring party's litigation costs. This arrangement also delays delivery of copies of the official transcript to the opposing parties. Thus, this practice also contravenes Code Provisions Nos. 2 and 3. Giving over the control of the transcript to one party further results in the reporter's abdication of the reporter's duty to ensure the security and confidentiality of the information as required by Provision No. 4. Finally, this practice most certainly violates Provision No. 9 by undermining the confidence of the parties and the public in the reporting profession.

Conclusion

The Committee has determined that for a reporter to enter into any arrangement in which the reporter gives up control and distribution of the official transcript to anyone (other than a court reporting firm through which the reporter did the work) , particularly a party to the proceeding, violates Provisions Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 9 of the Code.

The Committee also considers it a violation of the same Code Provisions even if the reporter involved is not directly involved in the agreement, for example, is acting as a subcontractor for a firm that is party to such an agreement.

 


THIS PUBLIC ADVISORY OPINION REFLECTS THE STATUS OF THE LAW IN MOST JURISDICTIONS. MEMBERS ARE REQUIRED TO CONFORM TO THE ACCEPTED PRACTICES SET FORTH IN THIS PUBLIC ADVISORY OPINION TO THE EXTENT THAT SUCH PRACTICES ARE CONSISTENT WITH THEIR OWN APPLICABLE STATE AND LOCAL LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS.